A criminal driving offense differs from a traffic infraction because if you are convicted of a criminal traffic offense you may face jail and fines. While jail is unlikely for some criminal traffic offenses, courts are required to impose jail on others. But jail and fines may be the least of your worries when it comes to criminal traffic convictions.
A criminal driving conviction can lead to collateral consequences including a loss of driving privileges, points on your driving record, and increased auto insurance premiums. In addition, a conviction may be a barrier for securing employment, looking for a new place to live, or being admitted into a foreign country such as Canada. There's a lot at stake if you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal traffic violation, and finding the right lawyer to help you fight the charge will be crucial to your defense.
Sheri Pewitt is recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers and is experienced in criminal traffic defense. She is committed to criminal defense and has led a number of speaking engagements on the same. Her commitment extends beyond lawyering to legislation. As Co-Chair of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' Legislative Committee, she advocates on behalf of all accused persons in Washington State, ensuring -- in part -- that new legislation is fair, balanced and comports with our state and federal constitutions.
Typical Criminal Driving Offenses
In Washington State, there are a number of driving and motor vehicle offenses that are crimes. As with all crimes, penalties can be imposed if you are found guilty. Typical criminal driving and motor vehicle crimes are listed below.
- Driving Under the Influence. Driving under the influence (DUI) is charged when an officer believes you are under the illegal influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Attempting to Elude. Attempting to elude a police officer is charged when a police officer alleges a driver willfully failed to stop and drove in a wanton or willful disregard for the lives of others while attempting to elude the police.
- Aiding & Abetting Traffic. Aiding and abetting a traffic offense is charged when it is believed you helped in some way the commission of a criminal traffic violation or traffic infraction.
- Suspended License. If you drive while your license is suspended, it is altogether a new offense, and can result in a charge in the first, second, or third degrees -- depending on the circumstances -- with third-degree as the less serious.
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving is charged if you are accused of driving in a willful or wanton way that ignores the safety of other people or property.
- Negligent Driving. Negligent driving is an offense charged when an officer believes you were negligently operating a vehicle in a manner that poses a risk to other people and property while appearing to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Hit & Run Unattended. Hit and run unattended is an offense charged if you hit another vehicle while it is unattended and did not try to locate the owner of the vehicle and/or did not attempt to provide your contact information as statutorily required to do.
- Hit & Run Attended. Hit and run attended is an offense charged if you strike another vehicle that was occupied but you did not stop to provide identifying information or check to make sure no one was injured.
Each of these offenses if convicted has separate penalties attached to them, including jail and/or fines. An experienced criminal defense attorney will determine if a viable defense exists depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.
There is a very short window from the time you are charged with a criminal traffic offense and the time you must make a decision about a course of action. Failure to act within the time limit can result in additional consequences. It is very important that you contact an attorney to represent your interests and protect your rights.
If You Are Facing a Driving Offense...
If you have been charged with a criminal traffic offense, contact the Pewitt Law Group, PLLC. Sheri Pewitt has extensive experience handling criminal driving and motor vehicle offenses from DUIs to Reckless Driving. She understands that a conviction can lead to serious consequences for you. She will explain those consequences as well as potential courses of action to resolve your case. Contact Sheri Pewitt online or at 206-941-0009.